The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C.

Phil Roeder

Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Amendment Preventing MMJ Crackdown

The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved the Rohrbacher-Blumenauer amendment, which protects state-approved medical cannabis programs from federal interference, as part of the 2018 Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations bill, according to a report from the Hill. Specifically, the amendment prevents the Department of Justice from using federal funds to crack down on state-legal medical cannabis programs.

The vote rebukes a request from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who sent a letter to members of Congress last month urging them to oppose the measure.

Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, said it was “great to see” the committee members approve the amendment and that “now it’s time for the House to do the same.”

“Patients deserve access to care, states deserve respect, and members of the House deserve the opportunity to vote on amendments like this that have the strong support of their constituents,” Smith said in a statement, adding that “more than 90 percent of Americans favor medical marijuana policies.”

The amendment was offered by Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, who argued the Justice Department has more important things to do “than tracking down doctors or epileptics using medical marijuana in their state.”

“The federal government can’t investigate everything and shouldn’t, and I don’t want them pursuing medical marijuana patients who are following state law,” he said in the report.

On Tuesday, House Republicans blocked budget amendments that would have allowed veterans to access state-legal medical cannabis programs and provided hemp producers access to federally-controlled water.

The House appropriations committee approved the amendment last month, and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher indicated he would offer the amendment to the House Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bill.

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